The deployment involves a “package” that includes Italian Air Force stealth jets, airborne early warning aircraft and tankers.
A small but well-assorted contingent of assets from the Aeronautica Militare (Italian Air Force) will deploy to Japan early next month to take part in joint training with the JASDF (Japan Air Self-Defense Force). Four F-35As with the 32° Stormo (Wing) from Amendola Air Base and 6° Stormo from Ghedi Air Base, accompanied by three KC-767 tankers and one G550 CAEW (Conformal Airborne Early Warning) aircraft of the 14th Wing from Pratica di Mare, and a C-130J from the 46^ Brigata Aerea (Air Brigade) from Pisa, will deploy to Komatsu Air Base, on the western coast of Japan.
From Aug. 4 to Aug. 8, 2023, the Italian Lightning II jets will conduct bilateral training with the local based F-15s of the 6th Air Wing, that will also be supported by the KC-767 tankers of the 1st Tactical Airlift Group. Interestingly, based on the official JASDF public release, the exercise will not see the involvement of the Japanese Lightnings, based at Misawa AB, in the northern part of the island.
The purpose of the joint training is to improve tactical skills and promote mutual understanding, and further deepen defense cooperation to realize a “Free and Open Indo-Pacific”. The exercise will also be the opportunity for the two air forces to share their experiences, considered the commonality in the fleets of the ItAF and JASDF: both are F-35 operators (and plan to operate a mixed fleet of A and B models) and both operate the Boeing KC-767 tankers.
Needless to say, the training activity falls within the scope of the growing ties between Italy and Japan, which resulted in the agreement between the Italian Air Force and the JASDF for the training of the Japanese student pilots at the International Flight Training School (IFTS), based in Decimomannu, as well as the industrial cooperation in the GCAP (Global Combat Air Program) for the development of the next generation fighter.
The long-range deployment, the first ever to Japan with tactical jets, for the Aeronautica Militare, will begin by the end of July, with a complex power projection operation that will also put to test the expeditionary capabilities of the Italian Air Force and its ability to support and operate multiple assets in a very distant theatre.